December 21st, 2012
If you ask bass anglers what their favorite way to catch bass is, the majority will say top water. The rest, I’d look them in the eye and seriously ask them if they know what a bass looks like. I fish mainly for green backs and my favorite top water would have to be frogs. There is nothing like an explosive bass attack on a frog to get the heart going; it’s a heart attack waiting to happen. If you’re not into top water frogs you are missing out and hopefully this article will change your mind.
I put frogs into five (5) categories, each one excels in different situations: hollow body, soft body, burner frogs, buzz frogs and hybrid frogs.
Hollow Body Frogs
The soft/hollow body frog is probably the most popular among anglers, with good reason. These frogs shine in dense slop and heavy cover due to their weedless properties and ability to fish through the kind of real nasty cover bass love to live in. You can slide it, walk it or stop and go over the cover pausing a few seconds in openings where bass will slam it. I think anglers should experiment because sometimes bass don’t want a pause; they want the frog to keep moving. You can also walk these frogs in open water, around docks or fallen trees.
I don’t think there is a wrong way to fish these frogs, as they are very versatile. I don’t get choosy over color with these frogs. Throwing black/white belly on dark days and green/white belly on sunny days is a good rule of thumb. Really, I think it’s more about confidence with these frogs when choosing color than anything else.
Soft Body Frogs
Soft Body Frogs usually have paddle legs and two good choices are the BPS Humpin’ Toad and Gambler Cane Toad; it’s the most popular frog among my angling buddies. Sometimes these frogs are referred to as “Buzz Frogs” because of the movement of the paddle feet. I find that these types of frogs excel around wood (stump fields especially). Bass will go great distances to kill this type of frog because of the commotion it creates on the surface. This type of frog works the best in open water, and smallies love these frogs; especially big ones.
Soft body frogs can hang up a little around pads and heavier cover so I would go with a burner frog when fishing that type of cover. My favorite is the Humpin’ Toad by BPS in black and white but the rest of my friends will go with the Gambler Lures Cane Toad. We’ll have “frog wars” all day on whose frog will catch the most and biggest bass of the day. Just so everyone knows we’ve been having these frog wars for years with no clear winner; some of my friends just won’t admit defeat (you know who you are). Go with the bait that you have the most confidence in, but experimentation is key here.
Burner frogs are my favorite type of frog and my personal favorite is the Zoom Horny Toad. Any frog (including soft-body frogs) that you can move at a high speed across the surface and does not have paddle legs, fits in this category. Speed kills and these frogs are no exception. I reel these frogs in quickly and I give the bass zero time to make up their mind in hitting this bait. It’s definitely a reaction strike with the burner frog. You don’t have to burn them all the time; sometimes they want it a little slower. I usually start the day fishing these frogs fast and slow down if I’m not getting action; it’s just a matter of experimenting.
I find that these frogs work well around all types of cover but pads are where these frogs can do huge amounts of damage. In open water with no cover these frogs lose their effectiveness so I would go to a soft body frog with paddle legs in those situations. Remember, sometimes bass hit the frog to stun it. If you miss a fish, just kill the frog and let it sink. Many times they will eat it as it flutters down to the bottom.
This frog is part buzz bait, part frog. If you look up Bobby’s Perfect Buzz made by Snag Proof or Stanley Buzz It Frog you’ll get an understanding of what I mean. The Perfect Buzz is one I use and this frog gets fewer bites but you will definitely get bigger fish on this bait. I have gotten my personal best on this frog and it is fun to use. You have to choose one and experiment with these frogs because some work better around certain cover then others. This category is very underutilized and the fish don’t see this type of bait often so big fish can be more easily fooled by them.
This category of frogs is a little different because it just includes frogs that don’t fit in the other categories. Some examples of hybrid frogs are the Molix Supernato and the OSP diving frog. Both of these frogs are very non- traditional ways of fishing a topwater. When cranked in they can be also utilized as either a crankbait or a wakebait, depending on how fast you retrieve them. They are both definitely worth checking out if you are looking for something that bass have not seen before.
This category is very unique and always growing as companies are developing innovative baits that blur the lines between bait categories. The Kahara KJ crank is another example of this type of hybrid frog that is going to be dynamite. The KJ crank, just released at ICAST 2014, is a bait based on a frog hook that features a bill like a crankbait and can have additional treble hooks added to it if you want to run it as such. What makes it a frog (or a hybrid crank) is that you can opt to fish it just like a frog, but crank it down like a crankbait when you get to open water, where cover is not too thick.
For the hollow-body frogs I would go with a heavy action rod, a reel with at least 6:3:1 gear ratio and min 50-lb braid due to the nature of the cover you are fishing. If you are fishing lighter cover you can lessen up on the hardware a little. For the burner, and soft body frogs, I recommend a medium/heavy fast action rod, 40-lb braid; but still use at least a 6:3:1 reel. Nowadays there are some super fast reels such as the Revo Rocket from Abu Garcia and they are absolutely deadly for frog fishing. Some people think this kind of rig is overkill, but you will need it if you hook up with a big fish in heavy cover and want to get it out. For the hybrid frog, you should experiment as to what works best, but I don’t recommend going too light. As John Wayne once said “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it”
When you use hollow body frogs and you miss a lot of strikes you can put on a trailer hook to help hook bass that are short-striking. Lake Fork tackle makes a trailer hook for these frogs and can help your hook up ratio. I’ve tried these hooks and they will add a few more fish to your catch a day. You’re not going to catch a dozen more bass using this trailer hook, but it will help. For soft plastic frogs and burner frogs you can get double hooks for them; they are available in both weighted and unweighted options. I would recommend the weighted one as the added weight acts like a keel and improves casting distance. If you enjoy using a single hook like myself and you find that the frog is catching cover a lot, or goes upside down during the retrieve. To prevent this, you can use a weighted Mustad 1/16-oz weighted Superline EWG hook or another weighted hook. This is a great way to keep the frog upright and ready to be eaten.
If you don’t already fish frogs, hopefully I have changed your mind and you’re thinking of added a new weapon to your arsenal of bass destruction. If you’re already using frogs, I hope to have provided some insight on how to use them with greater effect. Remember, if you can’t decide on what frog to throw, use the one that you have high confidence. Toss it with confidence and hold on tight!
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Jeremy Schneider is an avid multi-species angler. Making his home in Southern Ontario, Jeremy fishes for northern pike and bass. When he is not tournament fishing in the B.A.S.S he can be found enjoying the outdoors hiking and camping. Jeremy has had a lifelong love affair with fishing, He is one of the true northern originals and can remember fishing throughout all of Ontario ever since he was a child. During hard water months, Jeremy can be found studying up on new techniques and tackle to catch his favorite species, largemouth.More by Jeremy Schneider